Favors backs up lofty player ranking with standout performance
The game started with a bang; Team Breakdown raced out to a 14-2 lead and seemed to be hitting on all cylinders. High-scoring, 6-foot-3, Class of 2009 guard Kenny Boynton (American Heritage/Plantation, Fla.) was lights out from beyond the arc, and Team Breakdown just outplayed Atlanta early on. However, after sitting out because of couple of early foul calls, Favors and the Celtics got into a rhythm, storming back to take a 32-31 halftime lead. In the second half it was all Atlanta Celtics; Favors put an exclamation point on a superb Tournament of Champions performance with 20 points,16 rebounds, and 11 blocks. 2010 Ohio State commit, 6-2 guard Trae Golden (McEachern/Powder Springs, Ga.) added 16 points, and Auburn-bound, Class of 2009 shooting guard Andre Malone (North Clayton/Atlanta, Ga.) added 14 points.
For Team Breakdown, Boynton capped his impressive scoring effort throughout the tournament with 29 of his team's 62 points. Standout sophomore point guard Brandon Knight (Pine Crest/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was held to 8 points in the title game.
Despite competing in their first national tournament this year, the New Orleans Jazz defeated the Chicago-based Mean Streets 63-49 in the 17-Under Select Division championship game. The Jazz were led by a pair of player who attended Progressive Christian (Camp Springs, Md.) last year. Six-foot-3 shooting guard Richard Dixon had 18 points and 6-foot-5 guard Donald Williams, the Select Tournament MVP, had 16 points.
The leader for Mean Streets was all-tournament performer, combo-guard D.J. Cooper (Hales Franciscan/Chicago.) with 22 points.
In an intense war between area rivals, DC Assault edged past Triple Threat (Washington, D.C.) 64-61 in the16-Under championship game. DC Assault jumped out to a big early lead behind the outstanding play of 2010 top prospects, 6-foot-1 PG Eric Atkins (Mt. St. Josephs/Baltimore.) and 6-foot-3 SG Tyler Thornton (Gonzaga/Washington, D.C.) . However, with local bragging rights on the line, Triple Threat's superb 2010 perimeter combo of DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) stars of tomorrow -- 6-foot-4 wing Victor Oladipo and 6-foot-4 combo-guard Jerian Grant -- began nailing shots and turning up the heat defensively. Forward Josh Hairston (Courtland/Spotsylvania, Va.), the 6-foot-8 sophomore who garnered MVP honors in the 16-under division, made several key baskets down the stretch to preserve the win. Atkins led Assault with 16 points, Hairston had 13 points, 12 rebounds and Thornton and outstanding sophomore 6-4 G/F Dontae Thomas (Ballou/Washington, D.C.) each had 12 points. For Triple Threat, Grant and Oladipo had 21 and 20 points, respectively, in the loss.
Perhaps the nation's top 2010 prospect, 6-foot-7 wing Travis McKie, (John Marshall/Richmond, Va.) scorched the nets for 34 points to lead his Boo Williams All-Stars to an 82-56 rout of the Baltimore Stars in the 16-Under Select championship game. McKie was the obvious choice for MVP honors. Others standouts for the victors were all-tournament picks wing Dadrian Collins (Woodside/Newport News, Va.) and 5-foot-9 guard Brandon Britt (Oscar Smith/Chesapeake, Va.). The scoring leaders for Baltimore were two talented 2010 prospects, forwards Tobias Harris (Half Hollow Hills West/Dix Hills, N.Y.) and C. J. Fair (City College/Baltimore) with 17 points.
Ohio Basketball Club defeated M33M (Memphis) 60-45 in the 15-Under National title game Sunday at the Dean Smith Center. Diminutive freshman, PG Stevie Taylor (Lincoln/Gahanna, Ohio) was the top scorer with 23 points. Six-foot-6 forward Chane Behanan (Aiken/Cincinnati), the 15-Under National MVP, added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Ohio team. The top performer for M33M was 6-foot-6 forward Adonis Thomas (Melrose/Memphis), an all-tournament selection.
Multitalented 6-foot-2, 2011 point guard Shannon Scott (Lovett School/Atlanta), the son of former North Carolina All-American and NBA all-star Charlie Scott, had 20 points and seven assists to lead the Southern Kings (Ga.) to a 65-57 victory over the New York Gauchos in the 15-Under Select championship game. Guard Dai-Jon Parker (Marietta, Ga.), the division MVP, had 17 points and led the Kings in scoring throughout the event. The Gauchos were led by Class of 2011 standouts, 6-foot-4 wing Kervin Rameau (Adelphi Academy/Brooklyn, N.Y.) and 6-foot guard DeVaughn Reid (Rice/New York). Rameau had 20 points and Reid scored 15 points in the title contest.
• Of all the great things that Derrick Favors does on the court, his defensive presence is probably the most underrated part of his game. Favors' ability to block shots and sweep the defensive glass -- as well as play physical basketball in the post -- really changed things for the Atlanta Celtics in the championship game. Favors completely shut down Team Breakdown's attempts to get anything done inside, allowing his teammates to extend the defense on Breakdown's potent perimeter attack. In the semifinals, Favors was dominant against 6-foot-11 PF Mason Plumlee before getting ejected from the game for throwing a flagrant elbow. After his performance in the championship game, the name Alonzo Mourning was getting thrown around as a comparison to describe his impact on the game at both ends of the court.
• Kenny Boynton put his enormous scoring talents on display in the playoff rounds, finishing the event third in scoring at more than 25 points per game. Boynton is great shooting off the dribble. He is slippery with the ball and has the ability to stop on a dime and elevate with a quick release. He had the reputation as a streak shooter in the past, but his jump shot was consistent all weekend. He made 24 shots from behind the 3-point arc.
• PG John Wall (Word of God/Raleigh, N.C.) is not the top-ranked player overall in the Class of 2009. However, there is little doubt he is the one of the most electrifying performers when he comes to play. Wall uses his extreme quickness and athleticism on the court to explode to the hoop, comparable to 2008 All-American Brandon Jennings. Questions remain about his outside shooting and the consistency of his effort. But he goes end-to-end and gets to the rim faster than any guard in the Class of 2009. Wall had 31 points in a losing effort on Friday night and finished the tournament ranked fifth in scoring at 24 points per game. Memphis may head his list of schools, along with: Kentucky, Kansas, N.C. State, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Indiana, West Virginia, Baylor, Southern California and others.
• Six-foot-7 2009 PF Terrence Shannon (Mary Persons/Forsyth, Ga.) was the blue-collar man who did much dirty work in the paint for the Atlanta Celtics. Shannon is an imposing physical specimen, who plays with a bit of a mean streak inside, and he helps keep some of the pressure off Favors at both ends of the floor. Although Shannon is a bit undersized for a classic power forward, his toughness and athleticism make him a bona fide major college recruit.
• Six-foot-11 Duke commit Mason Plumlee (Christ School, Arden, N.C.) had a bit of a coming out party for Indiana Elite over the weekend. Plumlee is an aggressive, athletic force at 6-11, with excellent ballhandling skills and the ability to run the floor like a guard. Plumlee provided many of the highlight plays in Indiana Elite's march through pool play and the playoffs. But he was held in check by Favors and 6-9 C Robert Chubb (McIntosh/Peachtree City, Ga.) in Indiana's semifinal loss to the Atlanta Celtics.
• Six-foot-10 junior PF Ryan Kelly (Ravenscroft/Raleigh, N.C.) is another fast-rising big man from the state of North Carolina. Kelly is not a super athlete or an imposing physical post presence. However, he is the ultimate competitor. He has good agility and an accurate shooting touch with legitimate 3-point range. He played Plumlee to a standstill in D-One Sports close quarterfinal loss to Indiana Elite. Kelly is having an outstanding spring, and he has received offers from North Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Davidson and others.
• Clemson commit, 6-foot-9 combo forward Milton Jennings (Pinewood Prep/Summerville, S.C.) went against Favors on Friday night and probably fared as well as anyone did against the tournament MVP. Jennings had 17 points in his Beach Ball Select team's pool play loss to the Celtics. He did a nice job using his agility and ability to run the court to make his presence felt. On Saturday night, in his team's 85-79 Select playoffs loss to the Carolina Raptors, Jennings exploded for 49 points, including hitting 9-of-12 3-pointers. This was the second highest scoring game in the 15-year history of the Tournament of Champions. The record is 51 points scored by Mike Miller (Mitchell, S.D.) in 1997. In this year's tournament, Jennings finished among the top 10 scorers, averaging more than 23 points per game. This Palmetto State rising star is just now scratching the surface of his limitless potential. The best is yet to come.
• Six-foot-6, Class of 2009 SG Dominic Cheek (St. Anthonys/Jersey City, N.J.) led the Playaz Basketball club to the semifinals in which they lost to Team Breakdown. At this event last year, Cheek topped the 16-Under Division in 3-point shooting, and he picked up where he left off making 15 trifectas this year. Cheek has always possessed great length and athleticism. He has worked very hard during the past year to hone his outside shooting stroke, and his all-around guard skills.
• Six-foot-6 Donald Williams, the 17-Under Select MVP, was one of the major surprise players this past weekend, leading his New Orleans Jazz team to the 17-Under Select championship. Williams finished in the top 10 in scoring and was No. 1 in made field goals with 55 in six games. He uses his extraordinary athleticism to slash to the rim and finish in traffic. Williams will need to improve his perimeter stroke to reach his full potential at the next level. However, he is a definite high-major college prospect with a bright future.
• Six-foot-7 forward Christian Watford (Shades Valley/Birmingham, Ala.) continued his torrid scoring pace this spring as the scoring leader of the Tournament of Champions, averaging 26.5 points per game. Watford did most of his damage around the basket. But he also displayed his perimeter stroke, hitting 10 3-pointers in just four games. Watford has elevated into the national top 20 in the Class of 2009 player rankings. He will attend the prestigious NBPA Top 100 Camp this June at the University of Virginia. His list of schools includes: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Tennessee, Mississippi, Memphis, Oklahoma and Mississippi State.
• Another under-the-radar player who impressed us was skilled 6-foot-6 G/F Khris Middleton (Porter Gaud/Charleston, S.C.). Middleton averaged 18.7 ppg and was an accurate outside shooter. He is a superb athlete and was named to the All-Tournament team playing for the Carolina Celtics (S.C.). He will move up in our 2009 player rankings. His college choices include: Charlotte, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, SMU, Virginia Tech and others.
• Kentucky-bound 6-foot-6 guard Jon Hood (North Hopkins/Madisonville, Ky.) is a terrific ball handler with excellent court vision and the ability to deliver accurate passes. However, Hood needs to develop his perimeter stroke, get stronger, and become a better defender if he hopes to become an impact player in the SEC.
• All-tournament selection, Dominique Langston (Kolbe Cathedral/Bridgeport, Conn.) -- a 6-foot-3 guard from the 2009 class -- was virtually unstoppable off the dribble. Langston has great acceleration and excellent body control going to the hoop. He scored 25 points in Connecticut Basketball Club's victory over Texas Select.
• Texas Select's 6-foot-7 wing Shawn Williams, Jr. (Duncanville, Texas) showed his toughness and ability to control the glass on Friday. Williams had 16 points, and displayed good shooting touch on several midrange jumpers in a losing effort against Connecticut Basketball Club.
• Class of 2009 SG Josh Daniels (William Fleming/Roanoke, Va.) was the leading 3-point shooter in the event, making 25 trifectas in five games. Daniels finished tied for fifth in scoring at 24 points per game. He was an all-tournament selection for the Carolina Raptors (N.C.).
• Six-foot-8, 2010 forward Josh Hairston was the inside man for DC Assault's 16-Under team. However, Hairston's position at the next level will likely be on the wing. He is a terrific athlete with exceptional quickness and a rapidly improving jump shot. He will need to upgrade his ballhandling and continue to work on his man defense. However, he is an almost sure-fire star of tomorrow.
• Six-foot-6, 2010 forward Travis McKie led his Boo Williams squad to the 16-Under select title; he finished second among 16-Under scorers averaging 30.2 points per game. McKie is a relentless worker on the offensive glass with the ability to step out to hit 3-pointers. He gets up the floor quickly on the break and finishes with authority. McKie should be a priority recruit for the highest level programs looking for a physical scoring forward.
• Harvey Grant's son, 6-5 rising junior G/F Jerian Grant, had a terrific weekend, leading his Triple Threat 16-Under to the title game in the national division. Grant is a highly gifted athlete who plays physical basketball from the wing. His toughness allows him to be an effective rebounder and defender. Grant will need to continue to improve his ballhandling and become a more consistent outside shooter.
• Six-foot-11 Wisconsin commit, 2011 center Evan Anderson (Eau Claire North/Eau Claire, Wis.) has a bit of Brian Butch's skill set mixed in with Greg Stiemsma's raw physicality. The end result could be the best big man to come out of Wisconsin in quite some time. Anderson did a great job finishing strong around the basket, controlling the glass and knocking his opponents around defensively. He made the 16-Under All-Tournament team.
• Six-foot-2, 2010 guard Kyrie Irving (St. Patrick/Elizabeth, N.J.) led all age groups in scoring averaging 33.4 points per game for the 16-Under New Jersey Roadrunners. In five games, Irving made 16 3-pointers, which was tops in his age group. Also, he made 29-of-34 free throws. Irving is explosive off the dribble and outstanding rocketing to the hoop. If any player had a coming-out party in the 16-Under division this weekend, it was Irving.
• Six-foot-8, 2010 forward Julian Washburn (Duncanville, Texas) is a talented prospect who showed surprisingly good skills from the perimeter. Washburn is an impressive athlete with good hoops bloodlines as well. His dad is the former N.C. State star, Chris Washburn (Hickory, N.C.).
Bob Gibbons is a national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc. He is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports Report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball. Drop Bob a line in his mailbag. Rob Matera is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com and works for the All Star Sports Report.